Israel, Gaza militants agree to cease-fire after deadly weekend kills at least 43     Ukraine Live Briefing: Radiation levels remain normal after shelling at nuclear plant, official says     Iraq broils in dangerous 120-degree heat as power grid shuts down     Israel, Gaza militants agree to cease-fire after deadly weekend kills at least 43     Ukraine Live Briefing: Radiation levels remain normal after shelling at nuclear plant, official says     Iraq broils in dangerous 120-degree heat as power grid shuts down     China expands military drills, escalates threats against Taiwan     Rocket attacks at Zaporizhzhia power plant raise fears of ‘nuclear catastrophe’     Amnesty International’s Ukraine chief resigns after report criticizes Kyiv     Israel, Gaza militants agree to cease-fire after deadly weekend kills at least 43     Ukraine Live Briefing: Radiation levels remain normal after shelling at nuclear plant, official says     Iraq broils in dangerous 120-degree heat as power grid shuts down     Israel, Gaza militants agree to cease-fire after deadly weekend kills at least 43     Ukraine Live Briefing: Radiation levels remain normal after shelling at nuclear plant, official says     Iraq broils in dangerous 120-degree heat as power grid shuts down     China expands military drills, escalates threats against Taiwan     Rocket attacks at Zaporizhzhia power plant raise fears of ‘nuclear catastrophe’     Amnesty International’s Ukraine chief resigns after report criticizes Kyiv     
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News of Otsego County

MacGuire Benton

MacGuire Benton Backing Cheney for Congress

MacGuire Benton Backing 
Cheney for Congress
 

MacGuire Benton, former Otsego County Young Democrats president and Village of Cooperstown trustee, has endorsed NY-19 Candidate Jamie Cheney for Congress. Ms. Cheney is a business owner, wife, mother of three boys and the daughter of a veteran.

A graduate of Yale University and Harvard Business School, she runs Prokanga, a recruiting and consulting firm focused on creating flexible roles for working parents, manages the family cattle operation alongside her husband, and is active in the development of youth agriculture in New York State.

According to Mr. Benton, young voters are looking for a representative who is ready to take on the big fights facing the district today and for the years to come. “Jamie is that fighter,” he said. 

Letter: Cooperstown vote reform

Letter: Cooperstown vote reform

It seems like almost every day we hear about state legislatures across the country passing laws that make it harder to vote. Systemic voter suppression continues to degrade our democracy and the consequences of doing nothing will be felt by generations to come.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what we can do on a local level to improve the system of elections in our village. As a Village Trustee, I feel it’s my obligation to our citizens to be proactive and to propose innovative ideas.

Over the last few months, I’ve been working on proposed changes to our village charter to accommodate moving our village elections from March to November. That would mean our village elections would coincide with all of our other general elections on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.
It has been documented time and time again, that increasing the number of times people have to vote decreases the chances of them showing up. By making this change, when folks go to vote for their President of the United States they’ll be able to vote for their Village Trustees as well.

Village Democrats pick March slate as one trustee seeks to move future elections to November

Village Democrats pick March slate as one trustee seeks to move future elections to November

By Ted Potrikus

Cooperstown’s upcoming mayoral and trustee elections take place this year on March 15, but if one village trustee has his way, subsequent year voting would move to align with general elections held in November.

Trustee MacGuire Benton says he wants the date change to expand voter access as “democracy comes under attack across America.”

“Right now village residents can vote from noon until 9 p.m. in March and not in November when every other election is held,” Mr. Benton said. “My proposal gives six more hours for voting because we could start casting our village ballots at six in the morning on Election Day. Right now, we have no days for early voting. My proposal would give nine days of early voting.”

Cooperstown holds virtual information session on cannabis

Cooperstown holds virtual information session on cannabis

By KEVIN LIMITI • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Cooperstown Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh and Deputy Mayor Cindy Falk held a virtual meeting on November 8 to present information about marijuana legalization in New York and how it might affect Cooperstown.

There was a PowerPoint presentation during the meeting, which was opened up to comments or questions at the end. However, no public comments or questions were made.

This meeting was held two days before a vote is to take place on whether to draft an opt-out law, on Wednesday, November 10.

Cooperstown to consider cannabis opt-out law in December

Cooperstown to consider cannabis opt-out law in December

By KEVIN LIMITI • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

COOPERSTOWN — The Board of Trustees voted to consider a cannabis opt-out law on December 6 at 6:30 p.m.

MacGuire Benton was the  dissenting vote. Hanna Bergene and Joe Membrino were absent.

Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh has been in favor of an opt-out law, arguing for drafting a law which would then become open to public comment. “The only option for getting public comment is holding a hearing and that can only be done by drafting a law,” Mayor Tillapaugh said.

LGBTQ+ Rights are still fragile

The LGBTQ+ pride flag was hung at Cooperstown’s Village Hall on June 1, the second year it has been displayed for Pride Month. (Kevin Limiti/Allotsego)

LGBTQ+ Rights are still fragile

By MACGUIRE BENTON • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

This June marks 52 years since the Stonewall uprising began. We commemorate the contributions and sacrifices LGBTQ+ community members, activists and pioneers have made in the fight for civil rights.

In the early hours of June 28, 1969, a series of demonstrations began in New York City as a result of a violent police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a historic gay club located in Greenwich Village.

LGBTQ+ bars and nightclubs were subjected to constant raids by law enforcement agencies in the city at that time. The Stonewall uprising is recognized as the catalyst of the LGBTQ+ rights movement.

Photos: Rep. Antonio Delgado visits Cooperstown Distillery

Photos: Rep. Antonio Delgado visits Cooperstown Distillery

By KEVIN LIMITI • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Youth Has Its Day At Village Hall

Youth Has Its Day At Village Hall

Benton, Now Bergene, Trustees Under Age 30

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Bergene

Newly elected Village Trustee Hannah Bergene was already sold on Cooperstown.

But her first Induction Weekend working for the Chamber of Commerce – in 2015, the Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez year – she got sold all over again.

Baseball fans were jammed onto the front steps of Chamber headquarters in that yellow-and-white cottage at 31 Chestnut St., trying to catch a glimpse of their heroes passing by in the Legends of the Game parade.

“They were so in awe,” said Bergene. “They had waited all their lives to come here. We” – who live here – “take it for granted.”

She maintained that excitement for her five years at the Chamber, where she rose to marketing director under Executive Director Matt Hazzard, and for the past two years as social media director at Paperkite Creative, the Internet marketing firm.

Tuesday, March 16, Bergene and Trustee Cindy Falk, the deputy mayor, ran unopposed and received 139 and 136 votes respectively. Both are Democrats.

She ran, Bergene said in an interview Saturday, March 13, “because Mac asked me too” – Trustee Mac Benton, 23, who with County Democratic Chairman Clark Oliver, 22, have been recruiting young people here, in Oneonta and countywide to run for office.

The new trustee, her interest piqued by her work at the Chamber of Commerce, had considered elected office at some point, but “in my mind, it was years in the future.

“But why not? Why not get involved?” she asked herself. “The village needs young people to attract other young people here.”

Benton Is Planning Primary Challenge To Veteran Marietta

Benton Is Planning

Primary Challenge

To Veteran Marietta

2021 County Board Dispute Shaping Up

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Mac Benton

Andrew Marietta

COOPERSTOWN – Democrat MacGuire Benton confirmed a few minutes ago he plans to challenge the dean of the county board Democrats, Andrew Marietta, for the Cooperstown/Town of Otsego seat in next June’s primary.

“Primaries are the sign of a healthy democracy,” he said, adding he’s looking forward to “an exchange of ideas.”  He added, “It’s early, and I look forward to sharing my platform with District 8” when it is fully developed.

For his part, Marietta, who has been working with his colleagues on creating a county-manager position, said, “I have a job that I feel is unfinished.”  The 2021 county budget, recently approved, includes $50,000, with the idea the manager position can be revisited next as COVID retreats.

Mayor, 2 Trustees Sworn In After Long-Delayed Election

Mayor, 2 Trustees Sworn In

After Long-Delayed Election

Mayor Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch and Trustees Joe Membrino and, right, MacGuire Benton were sworn in for new terms this evening at the Cooperstown Village Board’s organization meeting. Village Administrator Teri Barown administered the oaths. Usually, village organizational meetings occur April 1, but the mid-March election was delayed until Sept. 15 due to the COVID-19 threat. The mayor was unopposed in that election, and Membrino led the three-way trustee race. But Democrat Benton and the Republican candidate, Mary-Margaret Robbins, tied at 272 each, requiring a runoff election Sept. 29. In that runoff, Benton garnered 343 votes to Robbins’ 308. Unless delayed, the next village election will be next March. Also at tonight’s organizational meeting, The Freeman’s Journal was designated an official newspaper of the Village of Cooperstown. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)

EDITORIAL Let’s Make 2020, ‘Year Of The Cooperstownians’

EDITORIAL

Let’s Make 2020, ‘Year

Of The Cooperstownians’

It’s Time For Trustees To Ask:

What Can We Do For YOU?

First, congratulations to Democrat Mac Benton and Republican Mary-Margaret Robbins for a hard-fought campaign for Cooperstown Village Board.

Mac won, but both he and Mary-Margaret showed a lot of class – he in victory; she in defeat – after the Tuesday, Sept. 29, tallying showed he garnered 343 votes to her 308.

He said her strong challenge will “make me a better trustee.” She praised the people of Cooperstown, those who supported her and those who were active in supporting Mac, as representative of the community’s spirit.

The front page of the March 17, 2011, Freeman’s Journal shows trustees, from left, Jeff Katz, Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch and Walter Franck at a victory party hosted by village Democratic then-chairman Richard Abbate. Behind Tillapaugh is her
husband, Gary Kuch.

In looking back over past Cooperstown Election Nights, that Freeman’s Journal front page from Thursday, March 17, 2011 – at right – showed up. It signaled the start of nine years of Democratic domination of the Cooperstown Village Board, which will now continue.

That picture in that front page’s upper left shows Jacob Miller dancing with mom Nancy at the 2011 Cooperstown Cotillion at The Otesaga, where Cooperstown 13-year-olds annually show off newly gained ballroom dancing skills.

Since, Jacob graduated from CCS, graduated from Harvard, and is now an assistant coach with the University of Georgia’s football team.

That’s how long it’s been since Democrats and Republicans balance each other on the Village Board.

That year, Democrats Ellen Tillapaugh Kuch, now mayor, was elected to the Village Board, along with newcomers Walter Franck and Jim Dean. Trustee Jeff Katz was reelected to the board. After a year of Democrats bedeviling the only Republican on the board, Mayor Joe Booan, Katz was elected mayor.

Those have been nine years of huge accomplishment for the Village of Cooperstown, fueled by the enactment of on-street paid parking, which generate $400,000 in new money a year for village government.

A decaying downtown has been fully repaired – sewerage replaced, streets and sidewalks redone, new street lamps, benches and $4,000 trash receptacles (they can be locked during the Parade of Legends each Induction Weekend) installed.

Pioneer Park at Main and Pioneer has a brick surface, a slightly elevated bandstand, water cooler, bike racks, new furniture.

The $5.5 million redo of Doubleday Field and the parking lot, completed this summer, is world class, appropriate for the world-class attraction. If you haven’t visited it yet, do yourself a favor: Make the drive to Cooperstown on one of the remaining fall weekends.

Among many, credit goes in particular to the hard-driving, determined Chicagoan Jeff Katz, mayor for six years, and such committed trustees as Tillapaugh, Cindy Falk, Lou Allstadt and several others. Now Mayor Tillapaugh is an able successor to Katz, smart, steady, disciplined, an elegant ambassador for “America’s Most Perfect Village.”

There’s much that these people – and Cooperstown’s citizens at large – can reflect on with pride.

Cooperstown’s Village Hall has been under one-party control for nine years.

While the Democratic bloc remains in control, it can only be learned that something was learned from this hard-fought campaign.

In the long ago League of Women Voters’ forum in this year’s race – March 7; the March 18 election was delayed until a couple of weeks ago by the COVID-19 threat – Robbins suggested the “Year of Cooperstownians,” 12 months when the Village Board focuses on making Cooperstown a more pleasant place to live.

Two incidents led to Mary-Margaret Robbins’ candidacy.

• One, the Village Board, without consulting, sought to impose diagonal parking on lower Pioneer Street, unaware or uncaring that cars entering and exiting would shine their brights into neighbors living rooms, plus adding congestion to the neighborhood.

• Two, one of those infur-iating blinking stop signs was installed at Lake and Fair streets, blinking all night long into a neighbor’s bedroom.

Despite the outcome of Tuesday’s vote, the Democrate bloc should take Robbins’ advice to heart.

The Village Board has a lot of ideas, but has it asked citizens lately, what do you want us to do next?

It might be instructive.

Voters Seek To Break Tie For Village Trustee

POLLS OPEN NOON-9 P.M.

Voters Seek To Break

Tie For Village Trustee

COOPERSTOWN – Polls will be open noon-9 p.m. today at the fire hall on Chestnut Street to resolve a nailbiter.

Village of Cooperstown voters will vote to break a 272-272 tie between incumbent Democrat MacGuire Benton and challenger Mary-Margaret Robbins, a Republican.

After the Tuesday, Sept. 15, village election, delayed from Wednesday, March 18, due to the coronavirus, Benton and Robbins opted for a runoff election instead of a coin-toss to resolve the race.

Check back after 9 this evening for results. Meanwhile, here are questionnaires the two candidates completed outlining their  view of the issues and plans if elected.

CLICK HERE FOR MacGUIRE BENTON

CLICK HERE FOR MARY-MARGARET ROBBINS

AND REMEMBER TO VOTE!

FALK: Village Needs Younger Voices, Like Benton’s

LETTER from CINDY FALK

Village Needs Younger Voices,

Like MacGuire Benton’s

To the Editor:

I grew up reading the newspaper much as you are now. There were no cellphones, no social media, and no 24-hour news networks. My worldview was shaped by rotary dials, printer’s ink, and
the 6 o’clock news.

I imagine many of you could say the same. Between 1990 and 2010, the federal Census showed that in the Village of Cooperstown there was an overall decline in every age group except for 50- to 59-year-olds. The sharpest decline (47 percent) was in the 30-to-39 age group.

My husband and I moved to the village with our young family in 2004, but our experience is far from the norm. The lack of young people in Cooperstown is a problem that we need to correct if our community organizations, schools and local government are going to thrive in the future.

This is where Trustee MacGuire Benton comes in.

I may not agree with MacGuire on every issue that comes before the Board of Trustees, but I always value his perspective. His experiences are often closer to those of my children and the graduate students with whom I work, the very people we need to help shape our plans moving forward.

For example, MacGuire saw the need to provide video access to village meetings even before the pandemic. In a desire to further government transparency and be more inclusive, he suggested policies last year that made the transition to online content easier when it became necessary due to the pandemic.

He recently pointed out the benefits of an official village Facebook page so that people do not have to turn to AllOtsego.com or Celebrate Cooperstown to get information about what is going on. Mac is committed to free and open communication and helping to make Cooperstown a place where young people of all backgrounds want to live.

On Sept. 15, something unusual happened: MacGuire Benton and Mary-Margaret Robbins – both eager to serve as village trustees – tied in a race for a seat on the board. Both have widespread support, each garnering 272 votes. And both undoubtedly love our Village and want what’s best for it.

However, if you are still undecided about whether to vote or for whom to vote in the run-off election on Sept. 29, I urge you to look to the future. Ensure there is a voice in village government that represents the next generation. Vote to re-elect MacGuire Benton noon-9 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 29, at the fire hall, or by absentee ballot prior to the 29th.

CINDY FALK
Deputy Mayor
Cooperstown

 

Tied, Benton, Robbins Face Sept. 29 Runoff

Tied, Benton, Robbins

Face Sept. 29 Runoff

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Robbins

Benton

COOPERSTOWN – Election Night in Cooperstown Tuesday, Sept. 15, was a nail-biter, ending with a 272-272 tie and setting up a runoff election for next Tuesday the 29th.

The runoff is between Democratic incumbent MacGuire Benton and Republican newcomer Mary-Margaret Robbins. Polls will again be open noon-9 p.m. at the fire hall.

This week, the candidates were asked to provide a final statement to village voters.

“I think things are going very well,” said Benton.

“A Village Board of proven leaders has worked very hard. I hope the people of Cooperstown will keep the progress going. I want to keep the progress going. I want to keep things going the way they are.”

Said Robbins, “As a longtime resident of Cooperstown, I choose to live here, work here and raise my family here. Now, I’m running for the Village Board to ensure Cooperstown stays a great place to live, work and raise a family for generations to come.”

Because of the short time to the runoff, Village Administrator Teri Barown extended office hours – 8 a.m. – 7 p.m. Thursday the 24th, and 8 a.m. – noon Saturday the
26th – for people who want to vote absentee to pick up applications or drop off ballots.

Absentee ballots may also be submitted Election Day until the polls close at 9 p.m.

What happened here Election Night provides a hint of what’s to come nationally after Nov. 3.

A few minutes after the polls closed at 9 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 15, Election Inspectors Tom Lyon and Ed Gwilt had the official count from voting machines: 234 for Joe Membrino, plus the 227 for Benton and 208 for Robbins.

But there were 108 absentee ballots, a lot more than usual.

First, Village Administrator Teri Barown and Election Inspectors Nancy Morton and Tom Heitz certified each of them, checking absentee voters against the list of registered voters provided by the county Board of Elections.

Ten voters had apparently forgotten they’d voted by absentee in the March 18 election that delayed six months by COVID-19, and they voted again.

“You put ‘already voted’ on those ballots,” said Barown, “and set them aside.”

One voter who had voted in March had since died, and his ballot was disqualified, too.

The ballots were then counted individually, “Membrino, Benton,” said Compton. Then, “Membrino, Robbins,” Heitz would say. There were a number of ballots with single votes for either Benton or Robbins.

Counting absentees and adding them to the machine count took an hour and a half, as the candidates, friends, family members and supporters stood by.

When Barown announced the tie, Robbins and Benton gasped, laughed and shook hands.
Membrino’s wife Martha gave her hubby a big hug, (which they agreeably repeated for the photographer.)

Both candidates in the tie rejected a coin toss– one means of resolving ties – and opted for the runoff election.

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